35 Inconvenient Truths – The errors in Al Gore’s movie

A spokesman for Al Gore has issued a questionable response to the news that in October 2007 the High Court in London had identified nine “errors” in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note making clear the mainstream scientific position on these nine “errors”, he would have made a finding that the Government’s distribution of the film and the first draft of the guidance note earlier in 2007 to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.

Al Gore’s spokesman and “environment advisor,” Ms. Kalee Kreider, begins by saying that the film presented “thousands and thousands of facts.” It did not: just 2,000 “facts” in 93 minutes would have been one fact every three seconds. The film contained only a few dozen points, most of which will be seen to have been substantially inaccurate. The judge concentrated only on nine points which even the UK Government, to which Gore is a climate-change advisor, had to admit did not represent mainstream scientific opinion.

ERROR 1 – Sea level “rising 6 m” ERROR 2 – Pacific islands “drowning”
ERROR 3 – Thermohaline circulation “stopping” ERROR 4 – CO2 “driving temperature”

As many as 35 serious scientific errors or exaggerations, all pointing towards invention of a threat that does not exist at all, or exaggerations of phenomena that do exist, do not reflect credit on the presenter of the movie or on those who advised him. The movie is unsuitable for showing to children, and provides no basis for taking policy decisions. Schools that have shown the movie to children are urged to ensure that the errors listed in this memorandum are drawn to the children’s attention.

There are 35 errors listed in this article. I don’t know which side represents the reality and truth on this matter, or even if either are correct. Does anyone familiar with the science being used have an opinion on this?

Thanks to thelotuseater725 for steering this article my way.

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7 thoughts on “35 Inconvenient Truths – The errors in Al Gore’s movie

  1. I haven’t seen An Inconvenient Truth and I’m kind of on the fence about global warming, but I have a few problems with this list:
    1) Really weak on citing its sources. Especially bad in Error 3 where it refers to a 2006 paper, but doesn’t say which one. Doesn’t this guy know how to use EndNote?
    2) Several of the errors are essentially restatements of previous errors, which doesn’t really add anything other than beef up the number.
    3)Some of the trendlines in the graphs are questionable. The 2nd graph in Error 7 clearly does show an increase in violent hurricanes starting in the mid-90s.

  2. @reboot: I noticed the re-statements too, part of the reason I didn’t list them all (of the 9 judged). The lack of citation makes it very difficult to judge. But difficult to judge doesn’t necessarily mean incorrect or non-factual, just definitely questionable. It’s just that both sides insist on using statistics in a way that makes the statistic not-significant. As far as I can tell the statistics aren’t conclusive (and I do know something about statistics). There certainly not stating the error rate % of the stats and both sides have reason to slant the statistics. That bias gets them both political power, authority and grant money.

  3. @reboot: That second graph in error 7 may show an increase, but not anything to indicate that it’s a trend. The graph is spiking up and down all over, and the stretch in the mid-90s is no change to that pattern. There is no pattern.

    I rather like how their graph in error 1 showing the sea level rises shows an upswing BEFORE the increase in hydrocarbon use, and the rise after is marginally accelerated if at all. In fact, take that line out and all I see is a possible natural fluctuation in sea levels. The graph simply doesn’t go back far enough to be conclusive either way. If I were to make a guess, I’d say it’s possible that the rise may level off on its own and go back down given an extended period of time.

  4. I would argue that linear regression (ie trendlines) is not the best way to evaluate most of these data sets. The better way would a hypothesis test to determine if variable X increases after time Y.
    The graph in error 1 is an excellent example. Sure they draw and trendline and sure is look ok by inspection, but you could do a hypothesis test to determine whether the slope is differs significantly after the give date. The fact that they have ignored this really elementary analysis (this is something from undergrad statistics) is extremely suspect.
    Also the cut-off date is somewhere in the 1940s. Why choose that date? Its completely arbitrary. Why not use some where in the 1850s when coal burning came into effect? Probably because that would destroy their argument.

  5. @reboot, nyokki: I agree 100%. I looked over those charts this morning and the use of linear trend lines spanning the entire period (plus the random cutoff dates) really ruined their arguments for me.

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